ISLAMABAD: TheÂ Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed satisfaction with the progress of theÂ Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the prime ministerâs familyâs global financial dealings.Â
The head of the JIT,Â Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director-General Wajid Zia, had earlier submitted the probe team's interim progress report to the special implementation bench.Â
After perusing the report, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that the progress so far is heading in the right direction. He added that no delay would be allowed in the 60-day deadline given to the probe team.
The bench â formed on May 2 to oversee the JITâs work in light of the apex courtâs April 20 judgment â is headed by Justice Ejaz and comprises Justices Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Ijazul Ahsan.
During the proceedings, the counsel of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's son Hussain Nawaz objected to the leaking of his client's picture during the JIT sessions. In response, the bench asked the JIT head to submit an explanation on Monday.
After the hearing had concluded, Zia, in response to reporters' questions regarding problems faced by the JIT, said they will file a separate application with the court regarding these issues.Â
Meanwhile, reports said the prime minister's elder son, Hussain, has been summoned by the JIT for the fifth time on June 9 while his elder son, Hassan, on June 10 for the second time.Â
In its judgment in the Panama case, the court had given the JIT 60 days to complete its probe and ordered for submission of fortnightly progress reports. The bench had finalised the JIT members on May 6.
On May 22, the JIT had submitted its first progress report, for which the bench had expressed its satisfaction and allowed the high-profile probe team to continue its investigation. During that hearing, a request by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to make the report public was rejected by the court, which observed that it will do so when it deems necessary.
Since the last progress report was submitted, the probe has been marred by several controversies.Â
A news report published in The News revealed that a person claiming to be the Supreme Court registrar had surreptitiously contacted the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and asked for specific persons to be included in the list of potential JIT members. The prime ministerâs son, Hussain, had raised questions of bias against one of the SECP officials who made it to the probe team. However, those objections were not entertained by the court.
Moreover, a picture of Hussain during his first visit to the JIT on May 28 was leaked to the media recently, raising questions on the credibility of the JITâs work. In the picture, Hussain can be seen inside a room with no other pieces of furniture except for the chair he is sitting on and a table beside it. Opposition parties claimed the government itself leaked the picture to gain sympathy, however the Interior Ministry denied those claims.
The most recent controversy surrounding the JIT stemmed from former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawazâs recent threats against the âthose investigating the prime ministerâs familyâ.Â
Senator Nehal Hashmi, who was the PML-Nâs Sindh general secretary when he made the comments a week ago, is facing contempt charges in the Supreme Court for âthreatening the families of judgesâ after the court took a suo motu notice of his remarks.
Since May 22, the JIT has summoned Hussain Nawaz four times and the premierâs younger son, Hassan, only once.
Moreover, sources said, the SECP has submitted all the pertinent record related to the Sharif familyâs business, including documents of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. The affidavit of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar with regards to the case â recorded in front of a sessions judge during the tenure of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf â has also been submitted with the JIT. However, that statement, said to be damaging for the Sharif family, was later retracted by Dar.
The JIT has also received a response from Qatari prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani after writing to him twice to record his statement. The Sharif family had earlier submitted a letter by the Qatari prince in the Supreme Court aiding the premierâs defence of his money trail. In his reply to the JITâs summons, the prince has said he cannot travel to Pakistan but is willing to record his statement with the JIT via other means.
The JIT also summoned National Bank President Saeed Ahmad and questioned him for around 12 hours.
Qatari princeâs letter
Former Senator Saifur Rehman â a close aide of the prime minister â has said that as the Qatari prince has verified the contents of his letter to the JIT, there is no need for him to come to Pakistan.
Speaking on Geo Newsâ show told Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath on Tuesday night, Rehman said the royal family member has no issues recording his statement with the JIT if they visit Doha.
The six-member JIT comprises its head, Zia, Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, SECPâs Executive Director Communication Bilal Rasool, Irfan Naeem Mangi of National Accountability Bureau, Brigadier Nauman Saeed of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Brigadier Kamran Khurshid from the Military Intelligence.
The Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad has been declared as the secretariat of the JIT.